5 great spring break ski destinations

With spring break just around the corner, many of you are no doubt looking for one last blast of winter fun before the warmer temps set in. With that in mind, here are five great ski destinations that will make your spring break a memorable one.

Big Sky Resort, Montana
Big Sky bills itself as the “Biggest Skiing in America,” and for good reason. With over 150 runs to choose from, the longest of which is 6 miles in length, you’ll never run out of mountain to explore. And thanks to a strategic partnership with nearby Moonlight Basin, visitors have more than 5000 skiable acres to shred. The resort is so large in fact, that you’ll rarely have to wait in line for one of the 22 chair lifts and once you do get to the top of the slope, you may not encounter another skier until you get back to the bottom again. Throw in dramatic Montana skyline, a host of other on site activities, and over 400 inches of snow per year, and you have a skiers paradise to say the least. Complete your Big Sky experience with a Yeti Dog and thank me later.

Whiteface Ski Resort, New York
East coasters who can’t make it out west this year have plenty of options for hitting the slopes as well. Whiteface Ski Resort, located in upstate New York, is the perfect example. With 22 miles of trail, spread out over 86 runs, Whiteface truly has something for everyone. The mountain even boasts 3430 feet of continuous vertical drop, which is not only the most of any resort in the east, it is also more than Aspen, Vail, or Park City. Surrounded by the spectacular Adirondack Forest, the trails offer a remote solitude, but when you’re ready for some fun off the slopes, nearby Lake Placid has plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy too.

Mammoth Mountain, California
Skiers and snowboarders on the left coast will no doubt already be well aware of Mammoth Mountain, a fantastic destination for everyone from beginners to experts. Located in eastern California, in the Sierra Nevada range, Mammoth offers up 3500 skiable acres that are covered in more than 340 inches of snow on an annual basis. Of the 150 or so runs available, about a quarter are rated for beginners, while a third of the remaining trails are rated as a Black Diamond or greater. The place is a popular destination for the snowboard crowd as well, thanks to its 18-foot Super Pipe and 22-foot Super Duper Pipe. Known for its long season, (the resort was one open for an astounding 10 months in a row!) Mammoth is likely to have great conditions not just for Spring Break, but for weeks to come as well.

Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley Lodge, located in north-central Idaho, has been a top ski destination since it opened all the way back in 1936. At the center of the ski and snowboarding culture that has developed there is Bald Mountain, or “Baldy” as it is affectionately known. Baldy offers 3400 feet of vertical drop, with an excellent consistency to the terrain, that has made it a favorite for skiers from around the globe. It also offers some of the finest powder you’ll find anywhere and miles of trails with few crowds to contend with. Throw in a great freestyle park and a Super Pipe for the snowboarders, and you have an amazing destination that will keep everyone happy.

Ruby Mountains, Nevada
For a completely different skiing experience, consider going to the Ruby Mountains, located in northeastern Nevada. There you’ll find Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience, a company that specializes in offering heli-skiing opportunities in the pristine backcountry. Unlike the resort options listed above, you won’t find any groomed trails or ski lifts here, just 200,000 acres of fantastic powder that is only accessible by helicopter. You don’t have to be a world class skier or snowboarder to enjoy the Ruby Mountain experience either, as you can choose to take on long, slow, shallow bowls or adrenaline inducing slopes that will have your heart pounding out of your chest. At the end of the day, you’ll return to the lodge for an amazing home cooked meal that will be the perfect end to a perfect day.

The calendar may say that it is turning spring in just a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have just a little more winter fun. Enjoy one last blast on the slopes before putting the skis and snowboard away for one more season.

Skiing in a former Taliban stronghold: Malam Jabba, Pakistan

Thumbing your nose at the Taliban has never been so fun.

The Malam Jabba ski resort in the Swat Valley of Pakistan has been a battleground between the Pakistani army and the Taliban for years. When the Taliban seized the area in 2006 they blew up the resort. They decided that skiing is unislamic, probably because it’s fun. Well, the Muslims in the Pakistani army didn’t agree with this interpretation of Islam and when they retook the region in 2009, they rebuilt the resort. Now they’re hosting a skiing competition to show off the new facilities, the BBC reports. Six Pakistani teams are competing. No news on the winners yet, but the only losers are those grumpy nutcases in the Taliban.

The army, which runs the resort, is hoping to attract tourists to the region. It used to draw intrepid foreign skiers but the fighting, which continued into last year, scared them away. Judging from the above photo, the skiing looks pretty good. Unfortunately it’s hard to tell what the facilities are like now because this picture was taken in 2005 by M. Sajid Ishaq, before the Taliban got their hands on it.


Goby.com names top New England ski resorts to brave the winter storm warnings

There’s another massive snowstorm heading up the east coast and making its way to Boston, Providence, Nashua and beyond. As the storms get worse, the New Englanders get daring. What better excuse to brave the slopes than with a fresh few feet of snow at a favorite ski resort?

Goby.com, a travel and events search engine, pulled together a list of the top ski resorts in New England. Our advice: Instead of sticking around the airport hoping for a flight out of the winter wonderland, bundle up and head to one of these hideaways. There’s snow, there’s a fire, there’s a bar, and there’s a lot of skiing, sledding and snowboarding to be found.

  1. Nashoba Valley: Cruise the slopes of Nashoba Valley’s Snow Tubing Park seven days and seven nights.
  2. Acadia National Park: Acadia offers hiking trails up Cadillac Mountain, a 44-mile system of carriage roads (open to hikers, bicycles, and horses), naturalist programs, and plenty of cross-country skiing.
  3. Blue Hills Ski Area: Blue Hills Ski Area is conveniently located in Canton, MA, making it the closest ski area to the Boston Metro Area.
  4. Wachusett Mountain: Wachusett is the highest mountain in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River and stands some 2,006 feet above sea level at its peak.
  5. Bousquet’s: A family-friendly area offering skiing, bording and snow tubing at affordable rates, including a bed and breakfast option.
  6. Butternut Ski Area: One of New England’s most beloved ski resorts, Butternut has slopes for all levels and plenty of children’s activities.
  7. Catamount: The mountain offers 1,000 feet of vertical descent and the most diverse terrain mix in the Berkshires.
  8. Blandford Ski Area: Owned and operated by the Springfield Ski Club, and open to the public, Blandford has 22 trails, half pipe, terrain park, and four lifts.
  9. Loon Mountain: The ultimate winter getaway, including 35 km cross-country trails, fabulous slopes, snowshoeing, ice skating along with night and day snowtubing.
  10. Wildcat Mountain Ski Area: You’ll have impressive view of Mount Washington from the massive 4,000 foot plus summit on Wildcat Mountain.
  11. Tenney Mountain: The mountain has joined forces with Eastern Mountain Sports to offer family-friendly and children-friendly winter and ski activities.
  12. Cranmore Mountain Resort: The popular ski resort has 11 lifts, including a high speed detachable quad and 200 acres of skiable mountain. It is practically at the center of North Conway, and 10 minutes from Storyland.
  13. Okemo Mountain Resort: Okemo is home to a 500 foot long superpipe, six action-packed terrain parks, and award winning children’s programs. The nearby Okemo Valley Nordic Center offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and a Winter Indoor Golf Academy Center.
  14. Stowe Mountain Resort: The famous mountain resort is the perfect place for nordic, cross-country and back-country skiers.
  15. Killington Mountain Resort: Located in central Vermont, the resort stretches across seven mountain areas, including Pico Mountain, and features access to 191 trails and 30 lifts.

Have a favorite? Let us know where you love to ski in New England.

January is learn to ski and snowboard month!

Ever wanted to strap on a pair of skis and hit the slopes, but don’t have the necessary skills to survive a single trip down the hill? Well, you’re in luck, as January has been declared learn to ski and snowboard month with dozens of resorts across the country offering discounted, or even free, lessons in hopes of attracing newbies during a traditionally slow time for the industry.

The official website for Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month has plenty of information for those looking to participate. For instance, the site offers guides on how to get started in both alpine skiing and snowboarding, as well as information on how to dress and what equipment you’ll be using while on the slopes. There is even a section just for kids and they’re also giving away a set of skis courtesy of Head Ski Company.

Best off all, if you’re wondering where you can go to take part in this month-long event, the site includes a list of places that are participating. With resorts in more than 30 states taking part in Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, you’re bound to find a destination not far from where you live. To see a list of those sites simply click here.

The post holiday period is often a slow one for ski resorts across the country. Many travelers have time off during the week between Christmas and New Years Day and they often spend time on the slopes to take advantage of that break. This event is one way to drum up some business during that down time while also introducing people to the sport for the first time. If you’re looking for something to do during the month of January, and sitting inside isn’t an option, then why not hit the slopes? With the option for free lessons, you’re starting to run out of excuses.

[Photo credit: Ripley119 via WikiMedia]

First heated ski lift in the U.S. opens in Utah

Skiers and snowboarders headed to the Canyons Ski Resort, located in Park City, Utah, will find a very pleasant surprise when they hit the slopes this weekend. The resort, which is the largest in the state, opened the first heated ski lift in all of North America yesterday, providing a more comfortable experience for visitors.

The new lift features heated seats and an enclosing bubble to help keep the elements at bay while making the nine-minute trip from the Grand Summit Hotel to the top of Lookout Peak. The protective bubble is orange in hue and designed to evoke a feeling of being inside a pair of ski goggles, which will be greatly appreciated when the snow starts flying. The lift should allow for more time on the slopes as well, as rather than heading to the lodge for a little warmth, you can get a respite from the cold weather while heading back up the mountain.

The “Orange Bubble Express” isn’t the only improvement that the Canyons has introduced for the new ski season. They’ve also opened a new base area, dubbed “Ski Beach,” where guests can sit around fire pits on sun lounges while enjoying a variety of tasty food from nearby kiosks. The resort has also built a new 1.1-mile long terrain park, with over 50 features, that snowboarders are going to love, and added a quad-lift and direct access gondola, amongst various other improvements.

With 182 trails, spread out over 4000 skiable acres, the Canyons is one of the top ski destinations in all of North America. It also features five fantastic lodges to stay in, including the newly opened Waldorf Astoria, and has plenty of amazing places to dine as well. If you’re looking for a great destination where you can play in the snow this winter, then the Canyons should be at the top of your list.

[Photo credit: The Canyons]